MCAD Tech News (#341)

28 Mar, 2013 By: Cadalyst Staff

Have It Your Way

Tech Trends: Mass-customization depends on parametric modeling to deliver made-to-order goods in less time and at less cost than one might have ever imagined.

By Heather Livingston

Customization is as old as craft itself, but for quite some time customized products have been out of reach for most. Until recently, custom often meant handcrafted — and the more intricate the work, the higher the cost. That expense has limited the number of buyers who could purchase unique designs.

In architecture and manufacturing, the most significant drawback of customization has been lengthy product delivery times. When low cost trumps aesthetics, customization too frequently has meant bid-losing delays.

Today, however, parametric modeling is changing that paradigm rapidly. In the design, manufacturing, and retailing industries, customers now expect — and receive — individualized products in record time, for minimal extra cost. "Digital design tools are fundamentally reshaping how products are designed, and this has implications for all manufactured products in all countries," believes Stephen Ezell, a senior analyst with the Washington, D.C.–based Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF).

Parametric modeling is CAD technology that uses parameters, or rules, to drive a design's geometry. If, for example, a user changes a dimension, the model size adjusts automatically according to the specified relations or constraints, also captured in the model.

Grass Valley's portfolio of video production solutions includes this robotic camera.
When United Space Alliance, the prime contractor for NASA's Space Shuttle Program, needed to remodel its launch control rooms, it turned to Evans Consoles. Using basic consoles as starting points, they designed five different engineered-to-order custom consoles to house NASA equipment throughout the room. Image courtesy of Evans Consoles

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Cadalyst contributing editor Heather Livingston is a Wichita, Kansas–based freelance writer specializing in design, sustainability, and architectural technology.

Customize AutoCAD through Programming

Learn how to search for text and modify layers with Visual Studio.NET.

By Andrew G. Roe

Consider the following scenario: In an AutoCAD drawing with a large amount of text, you want to find all the text containing a certain word or phrase, then move that text to a specific layer. Perhaps the drawing has some notes containing the word "valve," for example, and you want to consolidate all this text in a layer called Valves.

AutoCAD provides a nice search-and-replace feature — the Find command — but it will only modify text characters, not text properties. To move the identified text to another layer, you will need to put on your customization hat.

In my previous articles about AutoCAD programming, we learned how to use the .NET programming environment to extract drawing information, create AutoCAD entities, and modify them programmatically. In this article, we will combine some of these tools and explore more deeply how we can use .NET programming tools to accomplish the task at hand.

As before, this example uses the Visual Basic.NET programming environment, although you can use Visual C#.NET instead. To complete this exercise, you'll need either Visual Studio.NET or the free Visual Studio Express. (If you're using AutoCAD 2013, you should also download the ObjectARX software development kit [SDK] to run this example. Even though it's not an ObjectARX example, the necessary references are located in the SDK for 2013.) Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Andrew G. Roe is a registered civil engineer and president of AGR Associates.


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events

ACE 2013 (Global Aras Conference)
April 30–May 2, 2013
Detroit, Michigan
At ACE 2013, business and technology professionals from around the world will meet to learn about next-generation product lifecycle management (PLM) and collaborate on PLM best practices for dealing with complexity challenges from global product development and systems engineering to enterprise quality and supply chain management. Read more »

May 14–16, 2013
West Springfield, Massachusetts
New features at this year's manufacturing exposition and conference will include a panel discussion about workforce development, a competitive manufacturing event for regional high school students, and area plant tours. Read more »

RAPID Additive Manufacturing Solutions Event
June 10–13, 2013
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Produced by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, this event is billed as North America's definitive conference and exposition featuring 3D imaging and 3D printing technologies. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


What’s New at

Autodesk Provides Preview of 2014 Product Family
Forthcoming software suites feature new tools for managing infrastructure planning and reality-capture data. Read more »

Display Annotations in AutoCAD Drawings
We almost always want our text, dimensions, leaders, etc. to be on the top of the display order, while we want our crosshatching to be in the back. Join Lynn Allen as she shows you the fastest way to ensure your annotations and hatches are always displayed correctly. Watch the video »

Eurocom Panther 4.0
First Look Review: This mobile workstation delivers a brilliant display, good memory and storage capacity, and terrific speed — but shouldn't stray far from an outlet. Read more »

Dell Precision M6700
First Look Review: System packs high-end desktop workstation power into a portable form factor. Read more »

Monitors for CAD
Cadalyst Labs Report: Before you make your next monitor purchase, learn how to choose options that will meet your needs and take a look at six current models that we put through their paces in Cadalyst Labs. Read more »

Arboretum Gains New Insight by Digitizing 50 Years' Worth of Maps
Contex wide-format scanner helps the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University georeference its collection of 1,800 landscape maps. Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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Lynn Allen

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